Saturday, 8 December 2012

Best Hadrian's Wall Walk & Best View: Steel Rigg to Housesteads, including Sycamore Gap

Hadrian's Wall - The Best Bits:


Best Hadrian's Wall View, Sycamore Gap, Robin Hood prince of thieves, best view, Best Hadrian's Wall Walk
One of the most iconic and best Hadrian's Wall views, and a much photographed point on Hadrian's Wall is Sycamore Gap. A unique & beautiful setting, which was made even more famous in the Robin Hood "Prince of Thieve's" film.

Housestead's Roman Fort - one of the best bits on the Hadrian's wall walk
Heading towards Housesteads Roman Fort -  if you are looking for one of the best bits on the Hadrian's wall walk, then this view is it!

Hadrian's Wall Best View, on the best Hadrian's Wall Walk,
An impressive sight - perhaps my Best Hadrian's Wall View of the day on this excellent Hadrian's Wall Walk. This photo gives a real sense of the sort of terrain and landscape that Hadrains Wall covers, a monumental feet of human effort!




The Best Hadrian's Wall Walk and the Best Views?


Being 73 miles long and stretching from coast-to-coast, I had to do a bit of looking around on the web to figure out the best part of Hadrian's Wall to visit for the first time. My time was limited on the day I was able to visit - so I wanted to visit the section of the wall which had the best views and where the wall would be most intact. The section of Hadrian's wall I choose to walk was from Steel Rigg to Housesteads (map below), and is just under 3 miles and then you can explore Housteads Roman Fort at the end of the walk.

We parked at the Once Brewed Visitor Center (£3 all day) and then got the Hadrian's Wall bus back from Housesteads (£1.20 single adult fare - runs around every hour - 2012 timetable link at bottom of page). You can do a circular walk if you wish (and maybe take in Vindolanda) - but obviously this doubles the distance. The route we took is below, and is highly recommended, as you can do it in a couple of hours or so and grab a bite to eat at the end of it all in the visitors centre.

Map of the best Hadrian's Wall Walk Route - Steel Rigg to Housesteads Roman Fort
The map of the best Hadrian's Wall Walk Route (in my humble opinion! click image to enlarge) I parked at Once Brewed and walked a short section of the wall from Steel Rigg to Housesteads Roman Fort, west to east. You can walk back from Housestead's - but the frequent & punctual bus service was my preferred way to get back to Once Brewed!



Hadrian's Wall - Very Brief History...

The history of Hadrian's Wall is better read in depth elsewhere, like on WikiPedia here, but I will give a brief overview as best I can.

Construction by the Romans began around 122 AD under the instructions of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It stretches 73 miles across Northern England from the Solway Firth on the West Coast to Wallsend in the East Coast and at the time all land south of the wall was part of the Roman Empire. Apparently the wall originally was around 16-20ft high in many parts (see photoshopped image below), but now not much of it is left in terms of height - being only a few feet high in places.

There is still no agreement on why the wall was built, some believe it was built to keep the "Barbarians" north of the wall at bay (Scotland as a term had not yet existed - these so-called Barbarians were the Picts and the Celts). Some scholars say those north of the border where not much of a threat really and it could be more likely the wall was just built to reflect the power of Rome and how far its Empire stretched.


The full Hadrian's Wall Route from coast to coast.
My walk was only a very short part of this, covering the best, most scenic route, and began at the 'Once Brewed' point on the map above. See the more detailed map higher up the page for a more in depth account of the section i walked.

how high the original Hadrian's Wall must have looked
A photoshopped image found on the internet (link here) of how high the original Hadrian's wall was and how Hadrian's Wall might have looked when it was built. Don't get too excited it's only a few feet high now....


The stretch of Hadrian's Wall we walked from Steel Rigg to Housesteads is a magnificent walk, full of spectacular Northumbrian landscapes around every bend, brooding with fascinating history, character and the stuff of legend. For a walk of about 3 miles i don't think there are many better or more interesting in the whole of the UK. Below are a few photos I took on my walk to give you a glimpse of what to expect and to help you plan your walk (everybody has got to visit Hadrian's Wall at least once!)

 

The photos from my documented Hadrian's Wall walk and the best views:



This is where we parked - the Once Brewed Visitors Centre, where you can also find a manned tourist information centre and toilets! £3 to park all day.

Walking up towards Steel Rigg - it only takes 5-10 minutes to get to the wall from the car park.

This is where we got on the actual Hadrian's Wall path at Steel Rigg and head east.

The first time we glimpse Hadrian's Wall on this walk, going up East towards Peel Crags. We would now follow a path next to the wall for just under 3 miles.

View from the summit of Peel Crags looking back, towards Winshield Crags

Walking east along Peel Crags to Milecastle 39

Coming down the hill to Milecastle 39

First glimpse of Highshield crags & Crag Loch, hadrians wall
First glimpse of Highshield crags & Crag Loch


Sycamore Gap, Hadrians Wall

One of the most popular, most photographed and iconic images of Hadrian's Wall is Sycamore Gap, made famous in the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves film. Now most of us know Robin Hood was supposed to be from the Nottingham area, but I guess the director took a bit of creative license and filmed in locations all over the North of England - whilst giving the impression it was all in the same place!

Some of you may be wondering - where is Sycamore Gap?

I knew of Sycamore Gap before my walk, and had seen lots of superb pictures of the place, but I had no idea where it was on the wall. It was also hard to figure out, even searching the web, exactly where it was - so this section of the blog post aims to shed some light on it's location to make it easier for you to find than it was for me!

Sycamore Gap is located just to the east of Milecastle 39 (maybe only 100m or so) - if you look at the map at the top of this page - Milecastle 39 is to the east of Steel Rigg - and to be exact on the map above, Sycamore Gap is actually just above the 'L' on the text 'MILECASTLE 39' - so not far at all from Milecastle 39. The closest place to park to sycamore gap is Steel Rigg car park or Once Brewed Car Park) - and it's about a 15minute walk east from these car park's to sycamore gap.

Anyway, as Sycamore gap was one of the reasons I came to Hadrian's Wall, when I did get here, I got a bit snap happy :-) so there are quite a few pics of the Sycamore Tree here:

First glimpse of Sycamore Gap, one of the best views on Hadrian's Wall.
First glimpse of Sycamore Gap, one of the best views on Hadrian's Wall.


Perhaps my best photo I took of Sycamore Gap, one of the best views on Hadrian's Wall.
Perhaps my best photo I took of Sycamore Gap, one of the best views on Hadrian's Wall.




Heading up to Highshield crags looking back to Sycamore Gap, Peel Crags and Windshield Crags in the distance

Pretty much above Crag Loch now


Looking back over Crag loch with Windshield Crags in the far distance

The track now goes up beside Hotbank Farm House

Stood on top of Hadrians Wall, looking back again to Crag Loch

This was one of, if not the best, view of the day on Hadrians Wall, so I took a few slightly different photos here. 

The camera is actually resting on Hadrains Wall here

Hadrian's Wall best view on the best Hadrian's Wall Walk.
An impressive sight - one of Hadrian's Wall best view on the best Hadrian's Wall Walk. This photo gives a real sense of the sort of terrain and landscape that Hadrains Wall covers, a monumental feet of human effort!


Onwards east again now along Hotbed Crags, with Broomlee Loch just about visible to the left.

Another pci looking back to the path just covered, I'm still impressed by that view :-)

Looking east, Broomlee Loch again in shot



I didn't realise the Pennine Way came this far North, but I stay on the Hadrian's Wall route

Housestead's Roman Fort - one of the best bits on the Hadrian's wall walk
Heading towards Housesteads Roman Fort -  if you are looking for one of the best bits on the Hadrian's wall walk, then this view is it!




When you get to the Housesteads section, there is actually a designated path on the wall, and this is where todays walk ends.

Here we are at Housesteads visitor centre, where there is also a well preserved Roman Fort. We didnt have much time to explore the fort this time, with the Bus now due, but I will come back :-)


So that wraps this documented walk up. I really recommend a walk on this section of the wall - as it offers for me, the best of what Hadrian's wall has to offer, and I hope this blog post inspires you to want to visit it, Stuart.

ps. check out my full blog from the homepage - I've tried to blog as many of my favourite walks as possible!



Get in touch - email hello@stuart-hodgson.com
About me, Stuart Hodgson




More information on Hadrians Wall:


HWD Bus AD122



In this walk we got a bus back to the carpark at Once Brewed Visitor Centre from Housesteads. If you want to see as much of the actual wall as possible, then a liner walk is probably best as you can go further, and the bus is very useful to get back to where you started. I found information on the bus service here (The bus you want is the HWD Bus AD122 - it departs roughly hourly - but check the exact times first!):
http://www.hadrians-wall.org/page.aspx/Interactive-Map/Hadrian's-Wall-Country-Bus



A view of sycamore gap on hadrian's wall from a distance, it's actually from the road that the bus travels along!
A view of sycamore gap on hadrian's wall from a distance, it's actually from the road that the bus travels along!


Vindolanda & the Roman Army Museum

If you have more time I would recommend checking out these 2 separate places as there is a lot to see and it lets you find out more about Hadrians Wall. (The distance between the 2 places is a 10/15 minute drive). At the Roman army museum you can watch a 3D film about Hadrian's wall called Edge of Empire, which gives you a taste of what the wall was like in Roman times. The film is on for 20 mins or so and runs every 30mins - view more info here www.vindolanda.com/doorway-articles/edge-of-empire-3d-film

You can buy a ticket for either place or one ticket costing a bit more which gets you access to both places. More info can be found here www.vindolanda.com




14 comments:

  1. Some lovely photos and well documented!

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    1. Thanks - I hope they inspire others to visit this superb Northern-England location

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  2. such a lovely pictures, nice focal point.

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  3. It would be so nice of you if you recommend other resources dedicated to this topic of course if you are aware of any.

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    1. Hi Dean - what sort of stuff do you think would be good on this blog as extra information? Accommodation and other places of interest?

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  4. We've got to plan another trip to Hadrian's Wall soon!

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    1. Yeh would be cool to visit for a sunrise - seen some good photos when there is mist surrounding the wall in the morning

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  5. Very helpful info for visiting the wall.

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    1. Glad you found it of use :)

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    2. Just the info I've been searching for! It is hard to find the exact location of Sycamore Gap which I have wanted to visit since first watching Robin Hood (Prince of thieves). I have recently found out it is part of Hadrian`s Wall which I have also wanted to visit for a long time! I am very happy to discover it will only take 1hr 30mins for me to get to Once Brewed. I am planning a trip for my next day off and will maybe camp over to give enough time to visit Roman fort at Housesteads and Vindolanda. Fantastic photos! Thanks so much :)

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    3. No probs Julie -I was pretty much the same of you. First seen it on Robin Hood - then discovered it was Hadrians Wall. However the wall is a long distance so I had to do as much research as I could to figure out where to go - there wasn't much info kicking around - so thought I would help people with this blog post! Enjoy your trip. I'd love to stay over the night up there so i could try and get some sunset/sunrise pics in the same area

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  6. Darrell Brown16 July 2013 12:46

    Did this walk 2 weeks ago and thought it was awesome! Searched on Google and found your page Stuart. Great photos, and now I need to go and do it again cos i walked past the tree.

    Good tips off here re. the bus and will use it next time.

    More walks please!

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    1. Glad it was of use to you Darrell. I'll try and get more walks on here!

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